“In late 2011, at the end of the annual Fira Benèfica organised by the local international community each year in, Halina Berthelsen, a long term Danish resident who had run the “white elephant” stall in the Fira for several years, had the idea of asking the Comu (parish council) of La Massana for somewhere to run a charity shop. They responded by allowing use of what had been a bar located on the roof terrace above the Comu building, rent free, provided that a non-profit making association was set up with aims that included recycling, helping young people find work and, as a third objective, giving money to charities. So Carisma was founded by Halina and two other long term international residents and Halina started its shop, which rapidly filled up with donated clothes, books, ornaments, furniture and all sorts of things. Halina recruited volunteers, almost all from the international community, to work in the shop and it began to make money and to recycle lots of things that would otherwise have ended up in the municipal tip.
In mid 2012 a second shop was able to be opened with the support of Andbank, which provided a shop rent free in the parish of Escaldes-Engordany. This shop was opened as a joint venture under then Carisma name with Agentas, the employment agency part of then Meritxell special school for the disabled. A government grant covered the cost of disabled employees for the first six months the shop was open. The second objective of Carisma, helping young disadvantaged people find work, could now start to be realized.
Later the Comu of La Massana allowed the use of premises in the hamlet of Aldosa as a furniture store and the Comu of Escaldes-Engordany allowed the use of a former kindergarten as another store, and this store again employed personnel provided by Agentas.
Finally, in 2013, the Comu of Sant Julià provided a third shop to be run by the joint venture of Carisma with Agentas, creating more work opportunities for Agentas.
All these premises and all the furniture being offered meant that a van was needed. Initially there was a government grant to hire a van one day a week, but this ceased at the end of 2015.
So – Carisma and Agentas set out to find a good second hand van and Pyrénées, a major auto dealer, found one and offered it at a special price. The International Club stepped in with a donation of €5,000 to help buy the van and so now Carisma and Agentas have a van permanently available for them.
Carisma was created by dedicated members of the international community and the International Club is proud to have been able to help it buy and now run a van, which is maintained for Carisma by Agentas, which provides the van crew”.